A Quiet Place a Disquieting Scene of Horror

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A Quiet Place

I am ever leery of films that are directed by their lead actor; they tend to be showcase films, and having an actor direct himself is rather like having a writer be his own editor -- you're often too close to the situation to see the flaws.

JOHN KRASINSKI (JACK RYAN) does better than most, however, in overcoming the obstacles inherent in that dynamic with his work on A QUIET PLACE. Krasinski plays Lee Abbott, the patriarch of a family surviving a little over a year into an apocalypse that has devastated most of the population. The audience isn't privy to how the apocalypse happened -- whether the creatures came from outer space, from deep beneath the ground, or from a genetic experiment gone wrong. What we do know is that there is a new species on the planet that cannot see or smell, but can hear and is drawn to noise as its method of locating food.

When we meet Lee and his wife, Evelyn (EMILY BLUNT, MARY POPPINS RETURNS), they are expecting their fourth child, and are making preparations to do so safely. Everything must be done quietly, and if you've ever delivered a baby you know there's a modicum of noise to be made, by mother and infant.

The Abbott children include Regan (MILLICENT SIMMONDS, WONDERSTRUCK), Marcus (NOAH JUPE, SUBURBICON) and Beau (CADE WOODWARD). Beau is killed early on in the film as our introduction to the creatures, and to establish the tension between father and daughter. Regan, who is deaf, holds herself responsible for Beau's death -- and, quite frankly, so does the audience, because her actions were ill-advised.

One of Lee's continuing projects throughout this film, while struggling to keep his family safe, is to find a way to get past his daughter's deafness by experimenting with hearing aids and bone conduction. This is one of may telegraphed plot points that made much of A QUIET PLACE predictable. A nail on a stairway makes it one of the many of Chekhov's guns littering the plot.

In keeping with the tradition of its inexact opening, A QUIET PLACE concludes in a similar fashion, with the family having stumbled upon what they believe is a weapon that can overcome these master predators, and preparing to draw them in for the kill. However, we're into the credits before anything is decided, the result being that the already unsettled audience is left even more disquieted.

In terms of special effects, A QUIET PLACE is well done, but it's in the creation of mood, tension and conflict where the film has its greater successes. It's drawbacks are that so much of the foreshadowing was delivered with all the subtlety of a slot machine hitting a jackpot. That aside, however, the film begs to be rewatched after the initial viewing.

Grade: 
3.5 / 5.0